As the transfer window shut at midnight on August 31, English football had witnessed one of the biggest spectacles in recent history. It wasn’t one on the fields of Old Trafford, Emirates or Stamford Bridge, but one that was driven in the offices of these stadiums by club executives. The Premier League in the 2016 summer transfer window has shown its financial might. With a spending of 1.165 billion pounds, Premier League clubs set a new record. And it is not surprising that clubs have an extensive war chest going into these transfer windows now. Money has changed the way the game is played.
After the 2015 TV deal, which saw the Premier League sell its television rights for 5.136 billion pounds, Premier League clubs have had an enormous amount of finances at their disposal. Playing in the top flight of English football has become even more lucrative for clubs in the lower tiers; and it has not been better exemplified now than ever when the TV deal came into effect.
For instance, 13 Premier League clubs managed to break their own transfer records. These included the likes of newly promoted Burnley, Middlebrough and Hull City apart from the big boys of the league. This surge in spending is witnessed higher up the table as well with the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs spending a total of 681 million pounds. Such gigantic numbers are a result of a combination of inflated transfer prices as well as the availability of money to be spent at such rates.
When Manchester United bought back 23-year-old French midfielder Paul Pogba for a reported fee of 89 million pounds, his evaluation didn’t just represent his talent and ability, but rather represented Manchester United’s belief in him paying back the record amount with his performances on the field. In other words, the fee was a representation of potential than product. Same goes with the like of Manchester City’s purchases John Stones and Leroy Sane, both of whom are far from finished products.
Another key factor in this transfer window was the willingness of English clubs to spend. With the TV deal in place, clubs had a massive war-chest going into the new league season; and clubs with players angling for a move were well aware of that fact. For instance, Southampton, a club whose players have often moved to Liverpool in recent years, saw another one of their big players move to the reds of Merseyside. The 34 million pounds paid for forward Sadio Mane is consistent with the huge fees paid for the likes of Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana by Liverpool. Clubs around Europe have also cashed in on their big players knowing they will get the price they demand.
With such influx of money, the Premier League is looking to topple La Liga as the top European League, even as the Spanish clubs continue to dominate on the field. But with financial clout to the Premier League’s backing, those days might not be far.